Welch on US 17 Crash - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/15/05

Welch on US 17 Crash

A woman was killed and two people were hurt in a wreck on US Highway 17, a couple of miles north of the Talmadge Bridge. Local car dealer OC Welch was involved in the crash and spoke with WTOC about how it happened and how it might've been avoided.

It was a harrowing experience for the people involved, including Welch and his 13-year-old son, Chip. While the South Carolina Highway Patrol believes another driver was at fault, Welch says part of the blame belongs to the highway itself.

"We had been working all day and were halfway home at the bridge, we saw this car out of control," Welch told us.

The driver of that car is 77-year-old Sam Brown. South Carolina troopers say brown was trying to avoid hitting the car in front of him that was turning into the Gold Club. He swerved into the ditch, then overcorrected and ended up the oncoming lane of traffic.

That's where Welch's car was. "I jerked my wheel to the right trying to get off the road myself," he said. "I didn't want to flip the car, I was just trying to get off the road and we hit them in the side."

Brown was not hurt, but one of his passengers was killed. The other was airlifted to the hospital.

It happened in a matter of seconds. "Three or four seconds, we could have been dead-on head-on or three or four seconds, we would have missed them completely."

Both cars involved in the crash were traveling about 45 to 65 miles an hour. Their high-speed impact forced them quite a way off the road.

Welch says the road was also to blame for the crash. "It's okay to have two-lane roads, but you have to have a passing lane somewhere."

He says right now, it leaves no room for driver error, and now someone is dead because of it.

So far troopers have not charged anyone in connection with the crash. Welch says he has received a lot of phone calls today from concerned community members, and that he really appreciates that.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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